SpaceX has made history after successfully launching its Falcon 9 rocket into space and returning it to Earth in one piece.
The upgraded 23-story-tall rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 8:29pm EST, and touched down nearby a few minutes later.
It was the first time an unmanned rocket returned to land vertically at Cape Canaveral, and represented a tremendous success for SpaceX.
The firm, led by billionaire Elon Musk, is striving to make rockets reusable to drive launch costs down and open up space to more people
The first stage of the rocket was used to propel the payload to 62 miles (100km) into space, before the second stage took over.
The tall, white portion of the rocket then glided back to Earth, its engines burning bright orange against a black night sky, landing about six miles from the launch pad.
‘The Falcon has landed,’ a commentator said above the screams and cheers of people gathered at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Video images were soon cut off and the SpaceX live webcast returned to its commentators, who described the successful deployment of the rocket’s payload of 11 satellites,